Proposals to improve private rented homes in the city

Proposals to consult on the introduction of 2 new property licensing schemes will be discussed at the Housing & New Homes Committee on 20 September.

The aim is to drive improvement in conditions in the city’s expanding private rented housing sector, with nearly a third of households in the city are renting privately.

Private sector licensing gives councils the ability to set conditions on property management and maintenance standards and allows enforcement action to be taken where requirements aren’t met.

While many landlords run their properties responsibly, issues reported through the council show that management, standards and quality of private rented aren’t consistent.

Mandatory licensing covers all Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) that accommodate 5 people or more over 2 households or more.

Additional and selective licensing are schemes local authorities can introduce to address issues such as poor management standards and poor property conditions.

Proposed licensing schemes

If agreed, consultation will begin this autumn on introducing 2 property licensing schemes – a new Additional Licensing scheme for smaller Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) with fewer households than Mandatory Licensed HMOs, and a Selective Licensing Scheme for all private rented homes in certain areas.

The 5 year term of the city’s previous city-wide Additional HMO Licensing Scheme for smaller HMOs not covered by Mandatory HMO Licensing came to an end earlier this year.

This additional licensing scheme covered around 1,900 HMOs across the city, and allowed us to work closely with landlords to improve properties.

A number of licence conditions were set through the scheme, resulting in improvements made to management, building and safety standards that benefitted around 5,500 tenants.

A Selective Licensing scheme is initially proposed in 4 wards where evidence demonstrates a clear link between poor property conditions, deprivation and private rented homes. These are Kemptown, Moulsecoomb & Bevendean, Queens Park and Whitehawk & Marina.

The proposal also covers the option of introducing a further Selective Licensing Scheme covering 13 wards in the city on the grounds of poor property conditions.

These wards are Brunswick & Adelaide, Central Hove, Goldsmid, Hanover & Elm Grove, Hollingdean & Fiveways, Preston Park, Regency, Rottingdean & West Saltdean, Round Hill, South Portslade, West Hill & North Laine, Westbourne & Poets Corner and Wish. 

If approved, Selective Licensing in 13 wards would form a second phase of the scheme and would be subject to approval by the Secretary of State approval.

Improving private rented homes

Councillor Gill Williams, chair of the Housing & New Homes Committee, said: “Private rented accommodation covers nearly a third of the city’s housing. It can provide people with flexible and decent homes, but we know the quality of management and maintenance is inconsistent.

“Time and again we hear from residents about their poor experiences with landlords and uninterested letting agents, who fail to maintain their property and force tenants to live in sometimes disgusting, unhabitable conditions.

“Tenants in the private sector often live with the fear of eviction or having their deposit withheld if they raise an issue. Many live with the uncertainty of short-term contracts or break clauses used to evict them at short notice.

“We know that not all landlords behave like this, we will work with landlords to improve the quality of rental accommodation.

“These proposed landlord licensing schemes will help tackle the problem of landlords who fail to manage and maintain their properties.

“We aim to raise standards in more privately rented homes in the city and help make sure that all tenants in the sector can live in safe, healthy and well-managed homes.”

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